The 1989-1990 El Salvador Project
Taking a landmark Amnesty Report to the U.S. Senate via (in 1990!) the Internet
This project I organized in early 1990, led by 1990 to AML (Activist Mailing List) then to larger 1,000 reader ACTIV-L list
and March 1991 creation of Usenet's misc.activism.progressive which peaked in 1994 at 60,000 readers per official Usenet stats (more)

Shocking situation:

  1. Horrible atrocities in 1980s El Salvador
  2. The victims turned out to be not "just" some "communists" killed without trial (would be bad enough) but in reality, the targeted victims were: priests, human rights workers, farmers cooperative members, students, professors etc. What a bombshell revelation!
  3. Unlike U.S. media portraying "extremists on both sides with moderate U.S.-backed government in the middle" Amnesty International's major 50+ page report exposed the ugly truth that the Death Squads were in fact supported and run by government elements as part of a deliberate "government strategy" in Amnesty's words.
  4. These atrocities were carried out with the help of U.S. taxpayer funding.
Surely mainstream media would pay attention if II, III, and IV were brought to their attention, right? Even more reason for U.S. mainstream media to sit up and take noticed given: Innovative approach, possibly unprecedented: USA-wide internet organizing and (partly) internet-based fund-raising:
  1. Using the internet in 1989-1990 to organize, unusual for its time
  2. Using the internet in 1989-1990 to gather electronic signatures
            (from about half of the 50 states)
  3. Using the internet in 1989-1990 to fund-raise (successfully), again very unusual for its time.

  4. Project gave birth to Activists Mailing List (AML) afterwards, grew to 100+ members

    →  600dpi.special.el-salvador-project.1990feb.jpg (2.2MB) and with-negative-too.1200dpi.special.el-salvador-project.1990feb.jpg(8.8 MB) Grainy but cardboard boxes with the 100 copies of Amnesty International Report that we sent out one to each Senator (next to blue folder organizing our materials, Statement letter sent out etc)  ←

  5. AML in turn in fall 1990, gave birth to ACTIV-L which grew to over 1,000 subscribers, some of these "subscribers" where entire mailing lists rather than individuals
  6. In turn, this led to the creation of the internet's first ever moderated politics/activism "newsgroup" (pre-world wide web consisted in large part of "newsgroups" on the Usenet), called "misc.activism.progressive" (MAP)
  7. According to official UseNet statistics, by early-mid 1990s MAP grew to a peak readership of about 60,000 readers (again some of whom were forwarding to entire mailing lists, or --as testified by personal emails sent to Harel and found in "Sidebar" to his piece "Electronic Activism: Part I" -- readers printing out and sharing with offline friends, neighbors and fellow active citizens, none counted in official statistics).

    At the time the 'population' of the internet was less than 10% of today's (in fact it was circa 2011 when the internet's population was close to exactly 10 times larger than in the early to mid 1990s). On a "per capita" basis, this was the equivalent of more than 600k subscribers This is not to toot our horn, but of historical relevance. Update: by mid/late 2010's internet was 30x the size is was in 1994 so our 60k subscribvers per-capita equivalent to 18 million subscribers.

    No wonder a Senior Fellow at Worldwatch Institute contacted me out of the blue saying he read and enjoyed my "Electronic Activism" article, heard I wrote a part II and could I send it to him?

    Lately I've been too disorganized and scatterbrained to put together any real sort of Bio, jumping from one tiny project (like finding excellent winter hats normally over $20 each for a dollar each when a company went out of business and getting more than a dozen to give to the local homeless shelter) to another...not focusing well on large-scale activism as I used to. And dealing with personal life stuff, like most of us.

    At hard as it is to imagine, at one point Harel was contacted by an activist who wasn't famous - just that, that activist contact me (Harel) telling me that they had heard about me and my work from someone well known. Surreal as it may sound today, they heard about me from Canadian filmmaker Mark Achbar (known best for his movie The Corporation, but at the time known for Directing "Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media", and known then and even more so since for his many awards). In a spring 1995 email: "I was referred to you by Mark Achbar" and "I'm a journalism student..doing an article on internet activism and i hear you're the 'king.' Seeing how the internet has caught on...what gave you the idea to start misc.activism.progressive [4 years earlier and projects that led to it, a year before that]?" (see here or see the full sized scan) Amazing the things you find in old dusty carboard boxes of old activism you've built up over the years! In fact I was not 'king' or even 'prince' but together with lots of help from other activists whose roles were critical (Rich Winkel and Dave Ratcliffe, Jym Dyer, Yigal Arens, Sabina Astete and others)

    (Even at a mere 10 articles read per day over (say) only 260 days or only 71% out of 365 days actually reading (in fact, in the 1990s fairly "addition-grade" daily reading was the norm) done over 15 years (e.g. 1991-2006, while MAP continued until about 2011) over lower level readership of say, only 25,000 readers, would give about a billion "views" using these mostly low-ball very conservative estimates)

  • Letter sent to All U.S. Senators by USPS (PDF file) Highly unusual at the time, some of the fun-raising to cover the costs** were done over the internet. This PDF shows some of the non-internet fundraising partway through.
    **of buying enough copies (100 for the Senators, some for mass- media, some for organizations we were reaching out to and handful left for ourselves) of the Amnesty Report, the significant USPS postage costs associated with sending to all Senators, and USPS mail to Media, the very high cost of even modest long distance phone calls, envelopes, etc.
  • amnesty-ai-conclusions-elsalvadorproject.pdf


  • coveraction34.summer1990.elsalvadorproject-related.pdf
  • corrected.non-internet-fundraising-elsalvadorproject-1.jpg
  • corrected.non-internet-fundraising-elsalvadorproject-2.jpg
  • corrected.non-internet-fundraising-elsalvadorproject-3.jpg

  • comadres.1989dec.elsalvadorproject.pdf
  • activ-l-harel-amnestysummary-elsalvadorproject.pdf
    2.2 Megabyte and 8.4 Mebabyte images of the boxes of 100 or so Amnesty report, add later?
    Try to find higher quality image(s)...or find and scan in that receipt...
      -rw-r--r-- 1 harel pg6640 2298503 Dec  9  2014 600dpi.special.el-salvador-project.1990feb.jpg
      -rw-r--r-- 1 harel pg6640 8775564 Dec  9  2014 with-negative-too.1200dpi.special.el-salvador-project.1990feb.jpg

  • Found in 2020, look at later, some I've heard of, others want to confirmg source before I use to inform others because one 'off' item in pile of super verified can and often is used against calling alarm on horrible decades long human rights aspects of U.S. foreign policy..anyway: https://www.seniorreligion.com/new_page_278.htm (archive.is backup)

  • https://books.google.com/books?id=-IbQvd13uToC&pg=PA293&lpg=PA293&dq=%22rosa+had+her+breasts+cut+off%22&source=bl&ots=cKq8KgAndG&sig=ACfU3U2iV_cnV9tdY06U5HFCw_rdg1FAYA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwisv9ueoYvtAhVuuVkKHc2XBxoQ6AEwCXoECAYQAg#v=onepage&q=%22rosa%20had%20her%20breasts%20cut%20off%22&f=false